At the end of Tostan’s three-year Community Empowerment Program (CEP), a Community Management Committee (CMC) is created in each Tostan partner community, to ensure the sustainability of the program. Each members of the CMC is democratically elected and trained in project development and management. Committees serve to diffuse the information learned throughout the program to neighboring communities, manage community development grants by starting a microcredit system to support small businesses, and initiate community development activities such as hygiene campaigns, clean-up days, vaccination days and local construction projects.
In order to better coordinate the efforts of CMCs throughout the regions where they work, CMCs partner together to form a CMC federation, this provides them with increased rights and opportunities. Federations meet regularly to give community leaders a chance to discuss challenges, results, and give suggestions on how best to promote a lifestyle based on the respect for human rights to their community and neighboring communities.
In December 2012, 11 CMCs from the town of Boffa in the region of Basse in Guinea formed a federation, which they “Koba-Bouramaya”, after the zone where they live. Most of these communities participated in the CEP from 2005 to 2008 and have since been proactive in leading their own development initiatives. The Federation organized an intervillage meeting on April 22, 2014 in the community of Koba M’bendia to discuss and harmonize their individual action plans and to plan future activities. The forum brought together a total of 224 participants (87 men, 80 women, 57 adolescents) including 11 CMCs, local authorities, and partner NGO’s.
On the day, 11 CMC Coordinators each presented their community’s proposed action plan and discussed strategies for promoting the abandonment of harmful traditional practices, registering new births, and protecting the environment. Participants worked in groups to finalize the bi-annual action plan to be implemented from May to October 2014, which includes plans to provide maintenance for the community water sources, and to build the headquarters for this CMC federation. They also identified funding sources and put in place a fundraising strategy to strengthen and expand their activities throughout the region of Basse.
The motivation shown by the CMC Federation of Koba Bouramaya, shows a glimpse of enthusiasm from communities in Guinea. Mamadouba M’Bappe Soumah, a CMC federation coordinator invested in leading positive social change in his community of Koba, emphasized the importance of establishing federations as a way for CMC members to be held accountable when they fail to meet long-term goals. CMCs ensure the sustainable future of several initiatives started during the CEP, and continue to spread the knowledge gained through the program on human rights, governance, education, environment, health and hygiene, and project management.
Story by Victoria Ryan, Assistant to the National Coordinator of Guinea, Tostan